MyAgenda: Hayden Wood

Bulb aims to give consumers a choice of energy they haven’t had before. A registered B Corp, Bulb also has purpose built in to its objectives. Earlier this month the firm picked up a DigitalAgenda Impact Award for places and climate. Co-founder Hayden Wood takes our 10-question test.

hayden wood bulbWhat’s top of your agenda for change?

“To improve our product experience for our members to help them better understand how their behaviour affects their energy use. The old energy industry has traditionally provided confusing, complex information that feels unconnected to people’s real lives. This complexity has led people to disengage with how they use energy.”

What are you doing about it?

“We’re surveying our members to find out what tools and information they would find useful to help reduce their usage. We’re using that insight to develop an app that will make a real, practical difference to the way our members measure and manage their energy use.”

How did you find yourself doing what you do now?

“We were working in the old energy industry. We saw first hand that it was wasteful, inefficient and unfair. This meant people were confused, ripped-off and frustrated with terrible service. We realised the future of energy would be digital, renewable and simple. So we started Bulb.”

How is technology helping you to secure the change you want?

“We use technology to keep costs down and give better service. We then invest these savings in providing affordable renewable energy, which is traditionally more expensive. We are able to serve homes at significantly lower cost than our competitors. The number of customers we can serve per member of staff is around ten times higher than our competitors.”

“We also use new technology to keep things simple. Traditionally, the user experience for energy customers has been complex and opaque. We’ve bucked the industry trend by building an exceptional online experience that is simple, clear and easy to use. Finally, we’re incredibly proud of our growing online community, made up of engaged renewable energy consumers that are fizzing with ideas, peer-to-peer support and discussion.”

What’s the project you’ve worked on that has made the most difference to date?

“There’s no single project that has made more difference than the ongoing work to continuously improve our operations. The operations team is led by Jonathan Gartside, director of product and operations. Under Jonathan’s direction, our rapidly growing ops team is setting new industry-leading service standards. They’re also creating useful new ideas and innovative technology to eliminate complexity and simplify things for our members.”

What’s the biggest challenge for people wanting to make a difference through technology?

“We’re big supporters of the tech for good movement because we believe technology has an almost endless capacity to make a positive difference. However, a major challenge to making a difference through technology is overcoming people’s inertia and motivating them to experiment with new approaches to problems that seem insurmountable.”

What technologies are most exciting you in the space right now?

“There’s a huge amount of incredibly exciting and transformative energy technology being developed right now. We’re particularly excited about the potential for demand response and battery storage to transform the domestic energy market. And of course, technology-driven automation is enabling companies like Bulb to improve their business processes and reduce costs, which can be passed onto the consumer.”

What would you have done differently in your work looking back?

“We would have invested in our community earlier and placed the user at the centre of service design from the start. The Government Digital Service has a principle that service design starts with identifying user needs. This is something we’ve become increasingly aware of, as we’ve made improvements to our service approach and product design.”

What’s your piece of advice to people looking to do good through digital?

“Start with really understanding your customer, and make data-driven decisions that improve their experience.”

You’ve just won a 2017 DigitalAgenda Impact Award, for climate. What impact does that make on your work?

“We were delighted to win the Impact Award, particularly up against such an exciting range of other organisations using technology to make a difference on climate. We hope more people will find out about Bulb, realise that switching to renewable energy take two minutes and that it’s now something everyone can afford.”